When was the last time a salesperson visited you in person to show off their product? The last time a salesperson stopped by your office unannounced? If you couldn't think of an example, you're not alone. Pitching products and services to clients outside of the sales office is a practice that seems to be in decline. In fact, it seems there's a new article making the rounds every month decrying the imminent demise of field sales. After all, inside sales are generally cheaper and more efficient for small and large businesses alike, and anything that used to require a field salesperson to visit the customer in their office can now be done online anyway. This might be enough to make you think the field sales representative is a thing of the past. However, new data from the State of Inbound reveals that reports of field sales' death have been greatly exaggerated.
“Reports of field sales’ death have been greatly exaggerated.“
The study, which surveyed nearly 4,000 marketers and salespeople from 150 countries around the globe, found that respondents' staffing plans for inside and outside sales positions emerged nearly identical. Far from being an obsolete position, field sales reps are less likely to be laid off than their counterparts working from inside sales offices.
This doesn't necessarily mean outside sales representatives are going to be doing all their work while on the on the go. In fact, as technology continues to make it easier to communicate online, the average field sales rep may find that their position isn't as different from an inside salesperson's as they thought. Sure, they may visit several leads' offices each day to pitch a new product, but they're also going to spend an increasing amount of time answering emails, inputting data into a CRM, making calls, and performing many other tasks that traditionally fell to the inside sales team.
Likewise, the average inside sales rep may find they're doing much more work outside of the office than ever before, closing deals from their phones after the office is long closed or even meeting the client for a business lunch from time to time. The differences between inside sales and field sales are growing blurrier by the year, and it's time for businesses to take a different approach to organizing their sales force.
Field sales: still alive and kicking despite rumors of the contrary [tweet this]
Field sales aren't dead, but they are changing. Most field salespeople belong to small teams. Whether they are sole employee of their own business or the sole salesperson for their small company, the field salesperson doesn't always have the benefit of a large sales team and a hefty sales and marketing budget. Now, more than ever, field salespeople need to be adaptive and learn to harness the power of the tools inside sales teams have been leveraging for years, the most important of which is arguably the website. With the myth of field sales' demise debunked, here are a few ways the field sales entrepreneur can increase their sales using inside sales techniques.
- Develop buyer's personas
- Leverage Social Media
- Make your website mobile-responsive (your customers are on-the-go as much as you are!)
- Use your website to attract leads
- Use your website to pre-qualify your leads
- Track your leads with a CRM tool (and ditch old-school tracking methods like Excel)
- Outsource jobs that take too much of your time
- Use local SEO to stay competitive and catch prospects earlier in the buyer's process
Selling is no easy task, and it's only going to get more difficult for field salespeople to compete with the convenience of online sales. But that doesn't mean salespeople are going anywhere. However, it does mean sales teams will have to merge the gap between what were once considered the duties of field sales and the duties of inside sales. By combining inbound marketing techniques with a smart outside sales strategy, that medium can be achieved.
Where do you see field sales going in the next years? Let us know in the comments or on social media!